Pink Sauerkraut

Hello, there.  I’m working from home today because I have this thing about going outside when it’s -11 F outside, with a windchill of -40 F.

Just sayin’.

Anyhoo, this was part of our (new) traditional New Year’s dinner.  When I moved from Texas to Ohio in 2005, I was a bit perplexed my first New Year to find no displays of bags of black eyed peas alongside heaps of collard greens in the produce section of the grocery stores.  Instead, there were bags and bags of commercial sauerkraut alongside all of the pork in the meat case – it seems that up here, sauerkraut and pork are the traditional foods for the New Years.

Repulsed by commercial sauerkraut, I defiantly sought out the pitiful 1-pound bags of black eyed peas hidden next to the bags and boxes of rice.  I was by golly gonna have my black eye peas and cornbread anyway, thank you very much.

And so it’s gone every year I’ve been here.  Until this year, when I decided, you know, pork and sauerkraut just might be nice with some Hoppin’ John.  And that’s what we had.

(A note about the Hoppin’ John:  if you read the post I’ve linked to, you’ll see that I state black eyed peas do not need to be soaked.  I have completely reversed my stance about this, but we’ll go into this some more later this week.)

At any rate, around Christmas I decided if I wanted sauerkraut with my New Year’s dinner, I better get started and make some.  But rather than a traditional kraut, I thought I’d shake things up a bit and see what would happen if I used a red cabbage, a sweet yellow onion, an apple and whole allspice berries.

What happened was a vibrantly hot pink sauerkraut that is just delicious – crunchy and earthy, with a slight bite from the onion and just the faintest hint of sweetness from the apple and allspice.  It’s a news favorite here at the Sushi Bar.

Pink Sauerkraut. Add a beautiful splash of color to any dish with this vibrant and deliciously different ferment.

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Pink Sauerkraut
Serves: 16
[i]Makes one quart[/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 small red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • filtered water
Instructions
  1. Have ready a clean, dry, 1 quart glass jar.
  2. Toss the cabbage, onion and apple together in a large bowl until well mixed.
  3. Layer the cabbage mixture into the jar until it is about 1/3 full. Sprinkle some of the salt on top of the cabbage and pound it down with a wooden spoon or pestle until the cabbage begins to give off liquid. Sprinkle in a few of the whole allspice berries.
  4. Repeat layering the cabbage, salt and allspice, pounding in between each layer, until all of the ingredients are in the jar. Add filtered water to cover the cabbage if necessary. There should be about 1 inch between the top of the kraut and the top of the jar.
  5. Top off the sauerkraut with about 1/4 cup of olive or coconut oil to keep the cabbage submerged beneath the liquid, or use a glass weight. Cap loosely and store at room temperature (on a counter out of direct sunlight is fine) for 3 days, or until the kraut begins to bubble. Transfer to the refrigerator.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 22 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 364mg sodium, 121.9mg potassium, 5.5g carbohydrates, 1.1g fiber, 3.2g sugar, <1g protein

Roasted Sprouts and Spuds

I’m still not doing a lot of cooking; in fact, we’ve pretty much been living off of Thanksgiving leftovers for the last 5 days.  Today, though, I’ll probably freeze what’s left of the turkey and toss the rest.  I’m sick of looking at it.

I made this dish for the first time last week a couple of days before Thanksgiving, and loved it so much I made it again for lunch the next day – it was just delicious with the Cider Glazed Chicken Bites.  Really, though, it’s delicious no matter what you serve it with – heck, I’d probably be perfectly happy eating a great big ol’ bowl of just this, it’s that good.

It’s so tasty, in fact, that I’m willing to bet that even if you don’t like Brussels sprouts, you’d like this.  Roasting is such a good way to prepare vegetables – it does wonders for strong-tasting veggies like Brussels sprouts, and shredding or thinly slicing them cooks them more quickly than leaving them whole and gives them a great texture, completely devoid of the “woodiness” that can sometimes plague the nutritious little beauties.

And then there’s the potatoes; whether you choose to eat them or not, if you say you don’t like roasted potatoes, you’re either fibbing or just odd.  That’s okay, of course…I’m not exactly the poster child for “normal” myself.

To make the preparation easier, I ran the sprouts through the slicing blade of my food processor.  I used the fingerlings because it’s what I had on hand; you can use whatever kind of potato you have on hand – yes, sweet potatoes would be fine, and would make it Whole30 compliant – but if you’re using large spuds, I’d cut them into 2″ cubes instead of just slicing them in half lengthwise.

Roasted Sprouts and Spuds. Healthful and seasonal, this side dish is just delicious, and couldn't be easier to prepare.

Click the image to enlarge

Roasted Sprouts and Spuds
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 3 cups thinly sliced Brussels sprouts
  • 4 ounces fingerling potatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Combine the Brussels sprouts and potatoes in a large bowl; drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat. Add seasonings and toss again.
  3. Spread the vegetables on a shallow rimmed baking sheet and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through the cooking time, or until the sprouts are beginning to brown and the potatoes are fork tender.
  4. Serve immediately.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 232 calories, 14g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1448.7mg sodium, 799.8mg potassium, 24.5g carbohydrates, 6.7g fiber, 3.4g sugar, 6.2g protein

Sprout Kraut

The last batch of sauerkraut I made is but a memory, the dilly beans are long gone and the escabeche is but a few pitiful carrots and jalapeno slices floating around in a jar.

Time for another ferment.

The idea for this came from a recipe for Brussels sprouts, halved and fermented with dill, garlic and chilies I found at Saveur.com.  I was tickled that it was actually fermented; most mainstream recipes I find for pickles (and that’s all a ferment really is) are made with vinegar.  But since Beloved has been asking me to make more ‘kraut – he loves it with the grass-fed beef hot dogs our butcher has begun making – I decided to see just how it would taste using my favorite cruciferous vegetable.

It’s interesting.  I tend to prefer ferments before they get too terribly sour (the exception to that was the dilly beans, which just got better the longer they fermented); not much of a problem because we eat them quickly once they make the transition from the counter to the refrigerator.  This particular ferment, however, is different.

Brussels sprouts have a much stronger flavor than cabbage and even a week after transferring the jar to fridge, the kraut still tasted overwhelmingly of garlic and Brussels sprouts.  The longer it cures, though, the more sour – and the tastier – it becomes; I’ve begun to wish I’d left it on the counter for at least a week before putting it in cold storage, which slows down the fermentation process (but does not stop it).

Again, it’s interesting; I pull the jar out of the fridge every day or two and eat a big forkful to see how it’s coming along.  I’m literally tasting it as it changes character from salty, garlicky Brussels sprouts to a sharp, sour kraut that makes my tastebuds tingle.  It’s going to be marvelous by the time we get to the end of our jar, and I’ll make it again.

I used celery seed in this instead of the fresh dill called for in the original recipe because, for one, I have a large jar of celery seed in my spice cabinet that should be used and because the fresh dill in the dilly beans, while delicious, was a bit of a mess at the end and I didn’t want to have to pick most of it out of the kraut in order to eat it.  It was a good choice; the celery flavor is subtle, but delicious.  You can leave out the red pepper flakes if you like, but they do a lot to tame the strong, cabbagey flavor of the sprouts.  The garlic is a must – don’t skip it.

Sprout Kraut. For a twist on traditional sauerkraut, shredded Brussels sprouts are fermented with celery seed, peppercorns and garlic.

Click  the image to enlarge

Sprout Kraut
Serves: 16
[i]Makes 1 quart[/i]
Ingredients
  • 4 cups shredded Brussels sprouts
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • filtered water
Instructions
  1. Have ready a clean, dry 1 quart glass jar.
  2. Layer the shredded Brussels sprouts into the jar until it is about 1/4 full. Sprinkle some of the salt on top of the cabbage and pound it down with a wooden spoon or pestle until the sprouts begin to give off liquid. Sprinkle in a bit of the celery seed, a few peppercorns, a pinch of the red pepper flakes and a clove of garlic.
  3. Repeat the previous step, pounding the mixture between each layer, until all of the ingredients are in the jar. Add enough filtered water to cover the kraut. There should be about 1 inch between the top of the cabbage and the top of the jar.
  4. Top off the kraut with about 1/4 cup of olive or coconut oil to keep the cabbage submerged, or use a [url href=”http://www.pickl-it.com/products/94/pickl-it-dunk-r-3-pack/” target=”_blank”]glass weight[/url]. Cap loosely and store at room temperature (on a counter out of direct sunlight is fine) for 3 days, or until the kraut begins to bubble.
  5. Transfer to the refrigerator and continue to cure for 3 to 4 weeks before eating.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 13 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 358.6mg sodium, 99.3mg potassium, 2.7g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, <1g sugar, <1g protein

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash

Look – I’m here!

More importantly – I cooked!

It was a nice weekend; we finally got a little down time.  A good thing, too, because that won’t happen again until after Christmas.  I love the holidays, but the older I get the more I just don’t want to deal with it.

We are SO taking the week between Christmas and New Years off.

I’m also glad to report that my oven is back in working order, and this was the first thing I made once it was up and running again.  We have a ton of root vegetables in our fridge, as well as sweet potatoes and winter squash on our counter, some from the farmer’s market and some from our own garden (we were surprised at the success we had at growing sweet potatoes; there will be more next year), so I decided to see what I could do with them.

This recipe makes a lot – 6 very generous servings – and is quite easy to make, if you discount all the peeling and dicing prep-work involved; fortunately for me, my better half has no problem helping out with such tasks.  And it is just delicious – Beloved not only wolfed down a second helping the evening I made it, but ate more the next morning with breakfast.

I think he’s hording what’s left in a Tupperware in the back of the fridge where I can’t find it.

I used a delicata squash in this, but you could use any winter squash you like, as well as just about any combination of root vegetables – a rutabaga would be nice thrown into the mix, as would some red-skinned potatoes if you’re so inclined.  But as written, the hash is Whole30 compliant as well as vegan-friendly, and would make a great addition to a real food holiday table.

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash. This simple and colorful autumn hash can be made with any variety of squashes and root vegetables.

Click the image to enlarge

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups turnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 large delicata squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl; toss, making sure all the vegetables are coated with the olive oil and seasonings.
  3. Spread the mixture in a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until the vegetables are fork tender.
  4. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed, and place under the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes to finish browning if desired.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 164 calories, 7.1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 547.1mg sodium, 583.7mg potassium, 24.7g carbohydrates, 5.8g fiber, 7.5g sugar, 2.3g protein

Apple Butter

I really have to apologize for posting so many recipes that involve jars, but since it’s what I’ve been spending most of my time doing lately…well, that’s all I really have for you.

Now, that being said, we have a three-day weekend beginning tomorrow (Columbus Day here in the U.S. – they can’t shut that down, although I suppose they would try if they thought it would piss enough people off), and I plan to take advantage of the time off and cook quite a bit.  I have an idea for a seasonal dessert that I hope will blow your socks off, so everyone keep your fingers crossed.

Anyhoo, we’ve begun the yearly processing of the apples, which means more applesauce and more of this, as well – wonderfully rich and smooth apple butter.

Last year when I made it, I wondered what I’d do with it all, but it turns out it came in quite handy – it’s great in poultry and pork recipes.  It has also been appreciated by the bread eaters in the family, who occasionally enjoy a nut butter sandwich or a piece of toast.  If you have no problem with dairy, it’s great stirred into yogurt or cottage cheese, as a topping for ice cream, or poured on top of a baked brie.  This year, I’m going to use it to try and get a certain grandson to eat more vegetables – it would make a great dip for sweet pepper strips and carrot sticks.

Because, y’all, this is just about the best apple butter I’ve ever tasted.

Yes, it does have a little added sweetener – you could sub coconut sugar for the evaporated cane juice if you wanted, although I’d probably increase the amount to 3/4 cup – but if you want to go sugar free, you could.  It’ll just be a tad more tart and a little less “rich” tasting, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  But the small amount of unrefined sugar along with the cinnamon just take this over the top; it is just that good.

If you do leave the sugar out, this should be Whole30 compliant (I’m not sure if they consider this a no-no…and I’m not sure I care).

Note:  You can make apple butter from applesauce; the amount of apples given in this recipe will make about a quart of applesauce, so that is the how much you should use for this recipe – simply omit the first 3 steps of the recipe.  If you use sweetened applesauce, omit the evaporated cane juice.

Apple Butter. Rich and sweet, homemade apple butter couldn't be easier to make completely from scratch.

Click the image to enlarge

Apple Butter
[i]Makes about 3 cups[/i]
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds assorted apples – the sweeter the better
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Remove the stems from the apples, and quarter them – do not peel or core them. Add the apples and water to a large stock pot that is large enough to hold all of the fruit with room to spare, as the apples will expand as they cook.
  2. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the apples are soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool enough to handle.
  3. Working in batches, push the cooked apples and liquid through a a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the skins and seeds, or process through a food mill (again, discarding the skins and seeds).
  4. Transfer the applesauce to a large saucepan; stir in the evaporated cane juice and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened and reduced by about a third (the apple butter will continue to thicken as it cools).
  5. Makes about 3 cups and can be frozen or processed in water bath canner for 20 minutes.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 44 calories, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, <1mg sodium, 63.2mg potassium, 11.6g carbohydrates, 1.5g fiber, 9.4g sugar, <1g protein